Soros Foundation to leave Hungary

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Billionaire democracy activist George Soros' Open Society Foundations announced it will withdraw from Hungary and relocate to Berlin, citing an increasingly repressive political environment and security concerns for its personnel.

In a press release Tuesday, the Open Society Foundations, or OSF, mentioned the transfer is because of the Hungarian authorities's plan to "impose additional restrictions on non-governmental organizations by way of what it has branded its "Cease Soros" package deal of laws".

The move comes a month after Mr Orban won a third straight term in office on pledges to block immigration and introduce a "Stop Soros" law to dramatically tighten state control on NGOs that help the few refugees and migrants in Hungary. "It has become impossible to protect the security of our operations and our staff in Hungary from arbitrary government interference", CNBC added.

Hitting out at the proposals, which would tax foreign NGO income and clamp down on so-called civil society efforts to promote illegal immigration, OSF President Patrick Gaspard blasted Budapest for "using tactics unprecedented in the history of the European Union" to "denigrate" and "repress" the group's work.

Over the past two years, the Hungarian government has spent more than 100 million euros in public funds on a campaign to spread lies about the Foundations and their partners.

The Central European University, founded in Budapest by Soros in 1991 after the fall of communism in eastern Europe, said on Tuesday it would stay in the Hungarian capital despite the OSF decision to leave.


A Hungarian government billboard featuring George Soros, with the words translated to "Don't let George Soros have the last laugh" is seen at a transit stop in Budapest on July 6, 2017.

Orban, an avowed nationalist and critic of Western Europe's embrace of refugees, blamed Soros for much of the country's economic woes ahead of his recent reelection.

Soros, 87, is a Jewish financial market guru who survived the Nazi occupation during World War II.

Opposition and rights groups have long said that a departure of the OSF would mark a milestone in a slide towards authoritarian rule in Hungary and go against the principles of the European Union - a charge dismissed by the government. The bill says that all NGOs which "support illegal immigration" need to be registered, while any NGO which gets money from overseas must pay a 25-percent tax.

Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs declined to comment.

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